Upper-Extremity Explosive Resistance Training With Older Adults Can Be Regulated Using the Rating of Perceived Exertion

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Row Lazzarini, BR, Dropp, M, and Lloyd, W. Upper-extremity explosive resistance training with older adults can be regulated using the rating of perceived exertion. J Strength Cond Res 31(3): 831–836, 2017—Explosive resistance training (ERT) improves muscle strength and power in older adults. Previous work has determined that the Borg rating of perceived exertion (RPE) scale can be used to regulate ERT loads for older adults on the leg press exercise. The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between the Borg RPE scale and ERT loads relative to the 1 repetition maximum (%1RM) in older adults during the chest press exercise. Healthy seniors (n = 10 men, mean [SD] age 75.8 [7.9]; n = 10 women, age 73.0 [6.3]) took part in 2 sessions on nonconsecutive days. During the first session, subjects reported their RPE during multiple ERT repetitions on the chest press for 7 loads across the spectrum of “light” to “heavy”, ranging from 20 to 105% body weight. The loads, concealed from the participants, were presented in randomized order. During the second session, a 1RM strength test was conducted. Each load experienced on the first visit was calculated as %1RM. Rating of perceived exertion was averaged across subjects for each 5% range of 1RM from 35% 1RM to 110% 1RM. Regression analysis was used to determine if RPE predicts %1RM during chest press ERT. Rating of perceived exertion predicted the %1RM corresponding with chest press ERT loads (R2 = 97.6%, SEE 3.6, p < 0.001). Loads that would elicit both strength and power gains (70–90% 1RM) corresponded with an RPE of 14–17. As previously demonstrated with the leg press, ERT loads can be regulated for older adults during the chest press using RPE, allowing ERT to be conducted without maximal strength testing. This approach may increase the adoption of this training method for a broader spectrum of seniors.

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